All athletes run the risk of damaging their knees. Soccer is one sport with high rates of knee injuries. In one study, up to 35 percent of professional soccer players suffered from recurrent knee injuries.
Soccer players are likely to suffer from several different types of knee injuries. Most are caused by the quick stops, pivots, falls, awkward landings, and collisions that happen during the games. These moves cause problems like meniscus and ACL tears. Other common soccer injuries include tendonitis, patella instability, and MCL tears. Many of the injuries end up requiring surgery to repair them.
Injuries are common because the games last so long and involve so much movement. They are also common because field conditions can be problematic. Some fields are slippery or have lumps and pits that encourage accidents.
If surgery is required to take care of the injury, soccer players should follow the instructions of their health care providers. Many athletes work with both medical doctors and chiropractors, so your information about surgery and recovery should be shared with all of the health care providers you work with.
Recovering from knee injuries and surgery require following the steps set forth by your health care providers.
Wear Your Brace Correctly
Since many knee injuries are caused by twisting, turning, falling, landing, and other movement issues, braces can help knees recover. Braces also prevent weakened knees from becoming reinjured. If you have surgery to repair a torn meniscus or ACL, you will most likely be fitted with a brace.
The speed of your recovery can depend on how often you wear the brace and whether you wear it properly. They can keep knees in the proper position so they heal correctly. Some are designed to offer supportive mobility. Pay attention to your recovery instructions to have the speediest recovery.
Many injuries react by swelling. When it becomes time to start moving your injured knee, to prevent injuries, you can reduce swelling by using the RICE technique: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. This keeps blood flow moving, too. If your knee is tired after therapy, ice and compression can speed up recovery and decrease fatigue. Your health care provider can give you further information about how often you should ice and compress your knee to get the best outcome.
Increasing Mobility and Control
After a knee injury, it can be painful to get it moving it again. Many athletes fear reinjuring their knees, especially when they are weak and unstable. If your knee has been immobilized, the muscles and ligaments might be stiff. So, it can be uncomfortable to get moving again.
Your health care providers will give you instructions on how to best strengthen your knee so you can get back to the field. Range of motion might be limited, but if you follow instructions and work closely with your chiropractor, recovery will happen. Don’t be surprised if your health care providers give you strengthening exercises that include
- Leg presses
- Hamstring curls
- Step ups
- Hip exercises
- Calf raises
Your health care providers will show you how to properly do the exercises, and they will tell you how much weight to use. It is important that you follow through on your prescribed exercises so you can get back to soccer as soon as possible.
Some health care providers will also include plyometrics in your therapy. Plyometrics include moves like box jumps and agility ladders. Soccer players need to have precise, controlled foot work and these drills help get the knee back to supporting foot work.
Lastly, health care providers will give you opportunities to work in various planes to work on knee strength and flexibility. As a soccer player you need to spin, jump, and land, so the knee needs to support you doing these moves. So, your health care provider will ask you to jog backwards and sideways. You might be asked to do bear crawls or lunge sideways, to get the knee moving in different directions.
When Soccer Training Restarts
Once your health care providers see evidence that your knee is getting stronger and more stable, they will give you permission to begin soccer training. Usually, health care providers ask that you begin slowly or start with small moves, like using the lowest weight in the weight room or the shortest box available for box jumps.
Be Prepared for a Long Recovery
Recovery can be long-term, with some players missing complete seasons. Consider that a problem like tendonitis doesn’t just go away. Regular visits to a chiropractor for massage and adjustments can help with recovery, and many renew their practices of warming up and stretching before they hit the pitch.
Chiropractors do not perform surgery, but they can help with recovery and prevention. They look for the cause of the injury, and often find that it is due to a problem with the spine. They will look at issues with the joint itself, then they will look at hip and spine alignment issues. Tight muscles can also be culprits for knee pain.
After the assessment, chiropractors will take time to create a personalized treatment program. The program helps to strengthen the joint, heal damage, and prevent more from happening. Many knee issues come from inflammation, which can be cared for with heat and ice. Some chiropractors will use Electrical Muscle Stimulation for inflammation treatment. Some might turn to TENS machines, as another form of pain management that you can also do at home.
After the swelling is reduced, chiropractors will look at returning the knee joint to its maximum function and range of motion. Some chiropractors use manual manipulation to increase mobility. Some also turn to deep tissue or trigger-point therapies to recover mobility.
A typical chiropractic visit for recovering from knee injuries might include an adjustment, soft-tissue massage, then an ice treatment. Chiropractors might also apply an EMS or TENS machine for therapy in the office. They might also ask the patients to do some stretching or strengthening exercises. Patients with knee injuries are often encouraged to repeat the therapies at home.
About Dr. Wells
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. He is currently leading 10,000 Alaskans to more active and pain-free lifestyles with a progressive and highly innovative approach to chiropractic care, massage therapy, and physical rehab therapy (Visit us).